God’s ways are not always our ways. Time and time again we are reminded of this fact in scripture. The Old Testament is a place where this is rich and well developed.
In today’s passage, Jacob brings his entire family to Egypt after drought and famine had ravaged Israel. Just the name of “Jacob” is a reminder of how God’s ways are not the ways of humans. If you remember, Jacob was the younger brother of Esau. They tangled at birth, and then later Jacob and his mother helped deceive his father into thinking that he was Esau, stealing the blessing. Esau was set to inherit it all – and the double blessing of progeny and land would pass to Esau. Well, God had other plans, and chose Jacob, despite human tradition about the first born.
Now Jacob has 12 sons. Again we see reversal. Joseph is by no means the eldest son. In today’s reading, we see more than just birth order reversed. In fact, the entire generation is turned on its head. God has to reassure Jacob, “I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there.”
There is reason to be nervous! This trip puts his entire linage in jeopardy. And he is now leaving the land that was promised to his grandfather. What is going on?
We see God’s blessing coming from Joseph – who has taken on the persona of a foreigner. Son blesses father. Son becomes foreigner. Foreign land blesses the Chosen land people.
God’s ways are not the ways of humanity. One only look to people like Trump to see that most clearly. God is always choosing the way of surprise, of inclusion, of love, of openness, of transcending boundaries. This is not a natural thing for humanity, which likes the status quo and tends to get stuck in its own prejudices, chaos, and restraint.
What this tells us about God, is all we need to know!!! We are shown a God who does not follow the rules. Blessings abound! Trust and faith seem paramount. Land and progeny are secondary, and are automatically taken care of if one trusts in God’s upside-down world.
May this day be a celebration of the God of Surprise who has chosen to include you in the story.